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Press Release

Witness Panel: Arctic Rule Will Freeze Development Necessary for Strong Alaskan Economy

Prescriptive Standards Will Damage Future Energy Innovation

Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on the Obama Administration’s proposed Arctic Rule and its potential impacts on offshore energy development to native Alaskans, the State of Alaska, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and to our nation’s goal of energy security. 

The hearing also focused on a recent study by the National Petroleum Council (NPC), a federally chartered body with more than 200 members appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Energy, which concluded that most Arctic offshore resources can be safely developed using existing technology. Members of the Committee and witnesses criticized the rule’s negative impacts to industry innovation and the Administration’s failure to incorporate the NPC report’s findings into regulatory policy.

“There seems to be a disconnect within this Administration when it comes to the development of these important resources,” Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) opened. “On one hand we have a study conducted by the National Petroleum Council, requested by the Department of Energy, with extensive research and study into Arctic offshore energy development. On the other hand, we have an Arctic Rule published by the Department of the Interior that could significantly slow exploration and development and possibly curtail industry interest in future offshore lease sales that are currently scheduled.”

"The Arctic Regulations are yet another example of that inconsistency and I have to wonder whether their development was driven by an unspoken but very real determination to create unjustified barriers against future exploration efforts in the Arctic OCS,” stated Drue Pearce of Crowell & Moring and member of the NPC. “The regulations should be revised to incorporate the recommendations we included in the NPC’s Arctic Potential Report so that the U.S. Arctic will be competitive and Industry will be allowed to explore and develop our resources in an environmentally responsible but economically feasible manner. The Report describes a balanced approach that is missing in the regulations."

“Our communities cannot survive without continued resource development in our region,” Richard Glenn of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and NPC member stated. “We believe that the overly prescriptive nature of the Arctic Standards Rule is likely to hinder, rather than foster, development of oil and gas resources on the Arctic OCS.”

“These technologies are evolving with advances in primary barriers technology and well control methodologies. Current and future regulation must be flexible enough to incorporate these evolving advances,” Christine Resler of Schlumberger said. “The absence of flexibility in the current regulations does not allow for technological advances and best practices to be incorporated to improve operational performance in a timely manner. The greatest potential for reducing environmental risk lies in the pursuit of superior well control and well integrity.”

More information on the hearing can be found here.